Team Mercury – Part 2: Reggie Fountain

Reggie in a Team Mercury Seebold hull during the 1978 season. Photo Credit: Fountain 25th Anniversary book.
Reggie checks the rigging on this Mercury Twister II powered hull. Photo Credit: Fountain 25th Anniversary book.

“That boat was a rocket sled!” said Reggie Fountain about his first boat with Team Mercury.

Reggie began racing in 1954. He was 14. He started in B class hydros and runabouts. When I asked about engines, “I’ve always used nothing but Mercury’s….My first race engine was a Super 10 Hurricane with Quincy straight pipes. They were very loud. The hydro ran 60-70 mph which was pretty fast back then,” said Reggie.

Reggie claims the first thing he wanted after law school was to race. He bought a tunnel boat in 1968. “It was a twin-engine, 21-foot Glastron…I did pretty well at local races. You could tell the difference between independent boats like mine and the ones from the factories,” said Reggie. “My boat weighed 775-780 lbs, less driver. Joe Felder [on Glastron’s factory team] had an identical rig – but much lighter at 515 lbs.”  Reggie saw the advantage of factory support and the need to build a factory network.

Reggie won 22 out of 23 races in his Glastron with Mercury engines. Photo Credit: Fountain 25th Anniversary book.
Reggie in his twin-engine Glastron tunnel race boat. Photo Credit: Fountain 25th Anniversary book.

Joe Felder destroyed his Glastron in a crash at Havasu. So Glastron declared Reggie as their new factory driver. Reggie continued to network, becoming friends with Team Mercury driver Jim Mertin Sr. “Jim would supply…worn-out Mercury factory engines. My boat ran better…than it did with the Mercury’s supplied by Glastron.”

Mercury and Outboard Marine (OMC) agreed in 1971 to switch from twin- to single-engine racing to reduce expenses. “Gary [Garbrecht] called me and said, ‘You’re going to be our secret factory team boat. We’ll get you better engines.'” Reggie explained this was Gary’s way of keeping a hot, twin-engine rig on the course. This time, Glastron supplied Reggie with a new, lightweight boat.

Reggie Fountain - Undercover Factory Team Guy. Photo Credit: Fountain 25th Anniversary book.

“That boat with the Mertin/Garbrecht [Mercury] engines went like hell! I raced it 23 times and won every race except one. I lost the Washington, [NC] race by a lap. I ran out of gas 400 yards from the finish. I paddled to 2nd place.” said Reggie.  With this success, he was finally invited to meet Gary Garbrecht in person. He would continue as the “undercover, twin-engine, factory team boat.” Reggie summarized his twin-engine racing days by saying, “I could out run Billy [Seebold] with twins; he’s tough to beat with a single.”

“I had a great deal with the Team. I didn’t care about a salary or full time deal like Billy or Earl [Bentz]. I had my apartments and law degree, so I didn’t rely solely on the team for income or security. They provided boats and equipment….I would run the factory boats at small backyard races. I always won,” Reggie said.

The Spirit of ’76

Reggie looks to Bill Seebold for advice during a break at the 1976 Parker 9-hour Enduro.

“The 1976 World Championship in St. Louis was the most memorable race for me. Renato Molinari…ran brand new Molinari hulls. By now, Billy was building his own boat….We were running methanol in the engines back then. OMC ran aviation fuel with nitrous.

A 1975 photo of Reggie #76 in a Mercury Twistercraft and Bob Herring with his Molinari. Photo Credit: Fountain 25th Anniversay book.

Reggie said, “Garbrecht would dictate who won each event. He directed traffic to ensure his pick won. If one crashed – the others would split it up. The boats were close in performance. If it wasn’t [sic] for Gary’s manipulation, Billy would have won all the time. ”

“For the ’76 World Championships….Grabrecht came to me and said, ‘You’re going to win this race. Don’t worry about your engine. It’s good. Don’t worry about the other team members. Just drive.’….I definitely had an advantage that day,” said Reggie.

Reggie (second from left) at the start of the 1978 Parker Enduro.

Reggie recalled, “An OMC driver…tried a bit too much nitrous on the start of the first heat, blowing the powerhead sky high! My boat was a rocket sled! I had a good quarter-lap lead to win the heat. We put our boats on the trailers and headed back to the pits. Jack Leek, the director of OMC’s factory team….was trying to get into Mercury truck! He first began to argue about our running methanol. (There were no rules regarding fuels – so both methanol and [aviation] gas with nitrous were legal.) He then accused us of changing powerheads between heats. You could repair powerheads – but you could not change them.  I was in the trailer…I stayed there until Gary asked me to step outside. He reassured me they would take care of me.”

Reggie in for a fuel stop at the 1978 Parker Enduro.

The Team guys worked their magic and Reggie’s “rocket sled” easily won Heat 2. His luck turned when his engine finally ran out of steam. He ended up third for Heat 3. The Team, with Reggie’s two firsts and a third, dominated the event. With the powerhead controversy continuing throughout the afternoon, Garbrecht pulled the team, cancelling the final heat. Reggie won the World Championship on points.

Reggie shows intense concentration, taking his turn to drive during the 1976 Parker Enduro.

Reggie concluded, “I learned a lot during my time with Team Mercury: I learned you can never test enough. We tested a lot. That was the reason we were tough to beat and why we went undefeated for five years! Seebold was the best. He was the  most enduring – most steady….no one was like Billy.”

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Team Mercury – Part 2: Reggie Fountain”

  1. Randy Rabe took Reggie for his first offshore powerboat ride in 1974 in a 4 engine MEMCO #202, I have many many pictures of ALL of Reggie’s tunnel boats and some vintage video of Reggie running the Olson Classic in St Petersburg FL in 1976, Reggie ran his Seebold with a Mercury 1750 XS T-3 Reggie and my dad were great friends. He stayed at our big house on the water many times… I saw Reggie at the Old Friends Forever event in Stuart FL this year. …was great to see him and hand out for the day with him and Bill Seebold …I was so excited to see both of them. I made a pass in my Mercury powered Seebold at 9000 RPM with just the gearcase in the water …:)

  2. I hope your website’s server has mega tera-byte capability because there is going to be a lot to blog about concerning “Team Mercury.”
    More about one of the Team’s primer driver / managers, Jim Merten Sr. How about when he drove his Switzer Craft Wing “Wet & Wild” at Havasu, Arizona. The twin Merc boat almost beat President Reagan’s son Michael who was piloting a big hp inboard. Of course a trip back in the time machine to when Merty set a new “World’s Outboard Speed Record” would certainly have to be mentioned along with his many other achievements. More on Bob Herring. Tom Stickel would need to be recognized. The people who piloted the stock SJ and FJ boats like driver Mike Butler.
    For us “Gear Geeks” talk about all the variations and evolution of equipment will glue our eyes to our monitors.
    You have your work cut out for you. “Good Luck Rick.”

      1. Thanks for the reply Fred.
        I can appreciate that you will try to respond concerning my questions “as time allows.” One only has to look at your www site to appreciate that you and your Team are very busy. The magnificent offerings were not conceived, designed and manufactured by waving a magic wand. These all take time and considerable effort.
        All of us can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve and when the site will be changed to reflect this.
        Tom Beson

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